Hi Irving Families,
We have an important development to share about the start of the coming school year.
– Tuesday afternoon the State issued new rules for opening Oregon schools to in-person instruction, requiring a consistently low rate of new COVID cases. Neither Lane County nor the state of Oregon are currently meeting those low rates of new infection.
– Bethel schools are continuing to plan for a return to in-person instruction at some point during the 2020-21 school year.
– The #1 priority remains the health and safety for our students, families, and staff.
Opening Online: It has become clear that we must start the school year with 100% online instruction for all students. We will welcome all students back into our schools as soon as public health conditions allow.
This decision is a disappointment to many students and families who have been anticipating a return to school. It is also a relief to those who have been hesitant about a return to in-person instruction in the midst of a pandemic.
Here are the new required COVID-19 baseline numbers we need to meet in order for us to open schools for in-person instruction. We were at these rates in May and June, and they are our new community-wide goal:
Lane County metrics– must be met three weeks in a row:
– 10 or fewer positive cases per 100,000 population in the preceding 7 days
– 5% or fewer positive tests in Lane County in the preceding 7 days
– AND –
State metric must be met three weeks in a row:
– Test positivity rate of 5% or less in the preceding 7 days
K-3 Students: The state is more lenient on the baseline COVID numbers for opening doors for K-3 students. Research shared by Oregon Health Authority has shown that children under 10 get the virus at lower rates, get less sick, and spread the virus less than older students and adults.
So, while there is a possibility we will bring back K-3 students earlier than grades 4-12, all students will start with Bethel Online learning. We will share updates with you as soon as possible.
Bethel Online Learning: While starting this school year remotely is not ideal for many students and families, we have learned from the feedback our Bethel families provided after our emergency distance learning experience this spring. Bethel is committed to offering every child a rigorous online curriculum, five days a week, with daily contact from our dedicated Bethel teachers. We are committed to ensuring that our students continue to have access to the wide variety of classes and experiences available with in-person learning. To learn more about Bethel Online learning, click here.
Our goal remains to bring Bethel students and staff back to school as soon as is safely possible. The lower COVID-19 rates required by the state will become a community-wide goal that we can achieve by being diligent in our own health and safety behaviors.
So, while watching the COVID-19 numbers each day, our work is continuing, in order to provide the best possible education for all Bethel children.
What happens if a student or teacher is diagnosed with COVID-19? Can you explain the rules about face coverings? Could Bethel’s proposed instruction models change?
The answers are subject to change due to the seemingly ever-changing nature of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Health Authority, and Governor Brown have released updated guidance for schools.
It includes new requirements about face coverings, sanitizing, health screening, transportation, and much more.
How to safely reopen our schools is one of the most important and difficult challenges Bethel School District has faced. We need your input.
First, you can learn more about the upcoming school year in Bethel by joining one of the School Reopening Information Sessions on Zoom this week. Here is the Zoom meeting schedule:
– Tuesday, July 14, 9:00-10:00 a.m. Zoom Link
– Wednesday, July 15, Noon-1:00 p.m. Zoom Link
– Thursday, July 16, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Zoom Link
– Spanish Language, Thursday, July 16, 7:30-8:30 a.m. Zoom Link
– Spanish Language, Thursday, July 16th, 4:30-5:30 p.m: Zoom Link
Then, please take this brief survey. Your comments will help guide our decisions on reopening schools in Bethel.
For those who cannot join an information session on Zoom, a pre-recorded presentation is available here.
Cómo reabrir nuestras escuelas es uno de los desafíos más importantes y difíciles que ha enfrentado el Distrito Continue reading
Although it’s only early July and there are still two whole months before the new school year begins, families are understandably anxious and interested in our plans for reopening Bethel schools.
COVID-19 continues to change the most fundamental aspects of how we live, including how we hold school. As a result, our school cannot operate in a normal fashion to begin the 2020-21 school year. From top to bottom, here is some important information you should know:
The Plan: Bethel administrators and department leaders are now outlining details of two learning models: a Hybrid model, combining in-classroom instruction with distance learning, and a Comprehensive Distance Learning option for students who are unable to attend in person. There are many reasons why the Hybrid model has been selected, but most center on following the Oregon Health Authority’s strict health and safety requirements now in place for schools:
– Social Distancing: The State requires that each student in school be provided a social distancing area of 7’ x 5’ (35 sq. ft.). Depending on the size of the room, that limits classrooms to about 14 students at one time. So, about half the school enrollment will be able to attend school at one time.
– Instruction: A core value in Bethel is to maximize in-person instruction to provide continuity of learning, care, and connection. A Hybrid model brings students to school for some days each week, while offering distance learning for the days when students are not in the building, while Comprehensive Distance Learning is for students who cannot attend in-person at all.
– Health & Safety: No in-person plan will work without the ability to protect the health of all children and adults in the school. We are more able to limit your child’s contact with others throughout the day by reducing the number of students in school at one time, while keeping students in consistent groups, as required,
– Transportation: Social distancing requirements apply on school buses, too. This will cut the capacity of most of our buses by more than half. If all students attended each day, we simply would not have enough buses to provide transportation for all the students who need it. We will ask parents to transport their children, if they are able.
– Cleaning: In a Hybrid model, schools will be able to clean between student group rotations to disinfect all high-touch surfaces throughout the school.
– Childcare: Part-time in-school instruction is a significant burden on many families. With the Hybrid model, students will be in school some days and on a regular schedule. It also aligns with what private daycare centers typically offer (2 or 3 days per week options).
Your Choices: It is critical that we hear from you while the plan is still in the development phase. Watch for a survey coming in the Principal’s Blog. We’ll be asking about transportation, distance learning, meals, and more. Your input is incredibly important in helping the District refine its reopening plans.
Family Feedback: You will have opportunities July 13, 14 and 15 to learn more and provide feedback about the draft reopening plan. Your input is critical to the successful development and implementation of the plan. Details about the upcoming family feedback Zoom sessions will be shared in the Principal’s Blog.
The Timeline: After the survey and your feedback, the final Operational Blueprint has to receive approval from Lane County Public Health and be submitted to the state by August 15th.
Communication: We will continue to share updates as relevant information is available. Watch for emailed information coming via the Principal’s Blog.
Aunque es solo a principios de julio Continue reading
Yesterday afternoon we learned our students will not return to school campuses this school year, while plans around graduation requirements for seniors have also been announced.
An executive order from Gov. Kate Brown extended the closure of school buildings through June 12th in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe and healthy. While campuses are closed, education continues. Bethel schools will continue on the same pathway of Distance Learning for All that our staff has been preparing to deliver to all students.
This year has also significantly changed for our seniors. Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education, has announced a plan around graduation requirements. Click here for the full ODE plan. We are still digging into the new guidance, and will be reaching out to each of our high school seniors and their families soon with more information. Look for communication soon from Willamette and Kalapuya principals.
The school closure also means that proms, field trips, graduations, award ceremonies, and simple classroom activities will be missed or experienced differently. We plan to include our high school student leaders in collaborative planning efforts to address these experiences, and will share details as plans are developed.
During these unprecedented times, I want to say thank you for the kindness and patience you show to one another. We will need continued patience, resilience, kindness and strength as we move through these next few months.
Please remember that we care deeply about the well-being of each and every Bethel student. There is no road map for the trip we are on, but we will take this ride together.